Eugene, OR – In their first game at home since the devastating overtime loss to Stanford, Oregon found themselves in overtime with the 7th ranked team in the nation, again. This time, the Ducks held Washington to a field goal, and capitalized on offense with a 6-yard touchdown run by CJ Verdell putting the Ducks ahead for a 30-27 upset victory.
CJ Verdell, the same running back who fumbled while attempting to convert the game winning first down against Stanford in week 4, led the Ducks with 111 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Despite Verdell’s impressive turnaround with ball security, fumbles continued to plague the Ducks. After Washington tied the game at 3, Tony Brooks-James fumbled the Oregon kick return leading to a quick Washington touchdown off a 25-yard end around by Salvon Ahmed.
The Ducks tied the game at 17 after Justin Herbert connected with Jaylon Redd on a toe touch 7-yard touchdown pass, so close Redd himself stated “I didn’t even know if I was in or out”.
Two signature traits of a winning football program, and traits Mario Cristobal is trying to instill in “Oregon Football 2.0” are “trust” and “physicality”. Cristobal said after the game “If you build a good relationship with your players, and you build trust with each other, you can get through the dark moments”.
By putting the ball in CJ Verdell’s hands when the game mattered most, Cristobal proved both of these traits to his team. Verdell stated “I was glad that my coaches put the trust in me to run the ball in a 3rd and 6… I had to put the Stanford fumble behind me and go back to work”.
Apart from bringing the team together as a close-knit group, the most impressive thing Cristobal has been able to build in his short time as head coach is the physicality of the line, something that even in its peak Oregon Football hasn’t been familiar with.
Cristobal’s decision to run an inside zone for the win on third down was a statement that the long talked about “Oregon Football 2.0” is here, and this program is headed in a direction we’ve never seen before. Cristobal stated after Saturday’s win “We’re just getting started”.
Next week Oregon will travel to Pullman, WA to face a 5-1 Washington State team, a team which has beat the Ducks for three consecutive years.